Why We Have Hermeneutics in Our Curriculum

Which is better? To give a hungry family a basket of good fish that will feed them for a week, or a fishing net and lessons on the art of fishing? In Bible studies, one often hears the question, “What does this passage mean to you?” This question is misleading in that it places meaning with the reader of the text. Rather, we are to ask, “What did the author of this text intend to communicate to his readers, and how can that be brought into our own context?”


One of TLI’s courses is Hermeneutics, an introduction to the method of interpreting and applying the Bible. This method of interpretation consists of two main parts: making careful observations of the text (leading to a better understanding of the author’s intended meaning), and developing theological principles that will aid the application of the text in our own context. The course provides reliable principles and a hands-on approach with which to study, interpret, and apply the Bible faithfully in our own culture. In other words, students are given the tools with which to fish for themselves, rather than being given a fish to eat.


The approach will be comprised mainly of observing the small details and the overall design of each text in light of the roles for interpreting that particular genre of Scripture. Knowledge of the cultural contexts in which the biblical documents were written will be examined to help us better grasp the meaning of each text. The goal of this course is to give students the tools they need to “correctly handle the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). We believe that proper interpretation of the Bible (resulting in correct understanding and application) will enable the pastor to correctly use Scripture “for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). The Word of God is our life (Deut. 32:7) and correct interpretation is a matter of life and death. Right interpretation enables us to know and be known by Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).


The story is told that a missionary attended a church in East Africa and heard a sermon from Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira. The pastor told his people that congregation that the correct application was that they should not come late to church services. When people hear this, they laugh, but is that the correct response? Rather, we should weep that the truth of the Word is not proclaimed. There are many well-meaning pastors struggling to feed their flocks, who lack the tools to do it effectively. TLI seeks to be part of the solution to this problem.


Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:37-38). In a sense, TLI is part of the answer to Jesus’ request. Through TLI, people are going out to the harvest all over the world, teaching people to teach others so that the gospel will be effectively proclaimed. We cannot do this without the saints striving together with us in prayer.

We ask that you pray for TLI in the following ways:

That the gospel will advance and be honored. Pray for the advancement of the gospel into the different parts of the world where TLI is involved, and that it will be honored as we proclaim it.

Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you . . . (2 Thess. 3:1). 

For deliverance and acceptance. Pray that those serving with TLI will be delivered from wicked and evil people who lack faith. Also, pray that our ministry will be accepted among the saints.

Pray for us . . . that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith (2 Thess. 3:2).

  I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints (Rom. 15:30-31).

Ministry opportunities. Pray that God will continue to open doors for us into places where our work will be most beneficial.

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison (Col. 4:3).

Clarity in communicating. Pray for clarity in our training sessions, so that the gospel is understood.

At the same time, pray also for us, . . . that I may make it [the gospel] clear, which is how I ought to speak (Col. 4:3-4).

Boldness. Pray for boldness in proclaiming the mystery of the gospel as we are supposed to do.

To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak (Eph. 6:18-20).

Laborers. Pray that God would enable us to find more and more teachers to teach courses overseas and to prepare others to teach in their settings. In other words, pray that will be one of the answers to Matthew 9:37-38.

Pray for a clear conscience and honorable behavior in all things.

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things (Heb. 13:18).

Constant faith in the faithfulness of God. Pray that we will not grow weary when facing challenges but that we will demonstrate a constant faith in God, who is faithful to provide all that we need for every good work.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness (2 Cor. 9:8, 10).

May God be pleased to grant answers to your prayers for the advancement of his kingdom throughout the world, while we await the appearing of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.


A Bible in Our House

Growing up in a small village in Cameroon, West Africa, the only Bible I had seen was a very big one in our church. I thought that was the most holy Bible because it was so big. I even took pride in the fact that our church had the biggest one of any church around. The things I knew from the Bible were those that our pastor taught us. He was the one older person in our village church who could read. He read the Bible and taught the young people until he believed they were ready for baptism. I also thought that Bibles could only be found in churches and individuals could not own one. All that was to change one morning when I was about 10.

The day began like any other, with my mother leaving for the farm and giving me instructions on what to do during the day. When she left, I entered her room in our two room mud brick house. I noticed her suitcase under the bed. I knew that she kept her church clothes in it but I also wondered what else she kept in there. I proceeded to dig through and to my greatest surprise, I found a nice small Bible at the bottom of the suitcase. I thought, “A Bible in our house!” I was overcome with joy and forgot all about my mother having instructed me never to dig through her things.

When she came home that evening, I was eagerly waiting to announce the good news to her. As soon as she entered the house, I said, “Mother, you would not believe what I found.” I showed her the Bible and she said, “Where did you get that?” I replied, “Why does it matter, we have a Bible in our house.” After she disciplined me for disobeying, I asked her again why the Bible was hidden in her suitcase. She said the Bible was being saved for the day when I was able to read it to the family.

This little Bible that I found was a Gideon’s NT. For the first time, I began to read the Word of God and cherish it for myself. It contributed to my coming to understand better the teaching of the Bible, who Jesus is and who man is as a sinner. I started learning things I was not taught in church. I also began to see how my pastor was struggling in his own teaching. Much of what the NT taught, I had never heard him teach. I do not know how my mother got the Bible. All I know is that I found it in our house. What joy!!!

This is a simple story of a young kid in a village in Africa, but it points out the importance of having the Word of God and reading it for yourself. Until I started reading the Bible for myself, I did not know what it meant to be a Christian, though I had already been baptized. It also shows the importance of having a pastor in the village church who is able to read, understand, and rightly divide the Word of Truth. In my village at that time (and to some extent today), most people do not read. The only thing they know about the Bible is what the pastor teaches them. An ill-equipped pastor does more damage in such a setting. The story also shows the significance of owning your own Bible. This is taken for granted here in America but many people around the world do not own one. Even pastors struggle to own a good Bible for preaching. They are expensive and difficult to get. I was shocked a few years ago when one of our graduates wrote me a letter pleading for a complete Bible. He said that while at school, he owned a copy of the NT and managed with it. Now that he is graduated, he did not know what to do for preaching.